Racing: Favourite Timbera will miss National

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The Independent Online

Timbera, the 10-1 ante-post favourite for the Saturday's Grand National at Aintree, is almost certain to miss the race.

Timbera, the 10-1 ante-post favourite for the Saturday's Grand National at Aintree, is almost certain to miss the race.

Trainer Dessie Hughes said yesterday: "He didn't scope clean this morning, so it's highly unlikely we'll get him there. We always scope them before a big race just to make sure. It's dreadful." Ladbrokes have promoted Hedgehunter to National favourite at 9-1 from 11-1.

Timbera was to have been ridden by Jim Culloty, who partnered the 10-year-old to victory in last season's Irish Grand National. Culloty will now ride outsider Just In Debt for Martin Todhunter while Hughes will try to get Timbera ready for a repeat bid at Fairyhouse on 12 April. "I don't know at this stage how long he will be out for, but we've got two weeks," he added. Harbour Pilot, third in the last two runnings of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, has been allotted top weight of 12st in the Irish National.

Dual Group One winner American Post starts his Classic build-up at Saint-Cloud today in the Listed Prix Omnium II over a mile in which he faces just four opponents. His trainer, Criquette Head-Maarek, is keen to get a quick run into the Khalid Abdullah-owned colt ahead of the traditional French 2000 Guineas prep, the Prix de Fontainebleau, on 25 April.

Richard Hughes rides the son of Bering, who carried all before him last season, winning the Grand Criterium and Doncaster's Racing Post Trophy.

* Attheraces intends to claim back more than £50m from racecourses following the collapse of the Media Rights Agreement, but Channel 4, a member of the attheraces consortium, has said it is negotiating for the terrestrial broadcast rights. A spokesman for Channel 4 said: "We are working hard to reach an agreement which ensures the UK horseracing industry continues to benefit from the exposure terrestrial broadcasts provide, but which also makes commercial sense to Channel 4."

The BBC has stepped in to save terrestial TV coverage of the Derby on 5 June after the collapse of the Attheraces Channel threatened to black out coverage of one of the most important events in the racing calendar. The corporation signed an interim deal yesterday that will protect its racing coverage until the end of the year. The deal also ensures terrestrial coverage of other big meetings like Royal Ascot and Goodwood.

Ladbrokes Grand National betting: 9-1 Hedgehunter, 10-1 Bear On Board, Clan Royal, Jurancon II, 14-1 Bindaree, Davids Lad, 16-1 Amberleigh House, Joss Naylor, Monty's Pass, Shardam, 25-1 First Gold, Gunner Welburn, Le Coudray, Lord Atterbury, Southern Star, 33-1 Alexander Banquet, Artic Jack, Maximize, Spot Thedifference, Takagi, What's Up Boys, 40-1 bar.

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